Tuesday 30 August 2011

Catch Ups and Shout Outs

 A bit of blog house keeping.  I have been meaning to mention this UK website- a great idea for selling fabric small scale- a little destash perhaps, and bigger scale if you have lots to sell!  The brain child of Emma Thomsen from Its All About the Fabric a great blog full of handy links.  The Fabric Market Place works a bit like Etsy, you register to buy and you can use the same details to register as a seller too if you have sewing related goodies to sell.  It is a great idea, I love Etsy but there is so much on it that you can drown in the results when you are buying or selling, this is so specific, I hope it catches on,  I have put a few bits on to see how it goes.  
I've just had a quick look at the categories- sewing machines, handmade makes, vintage- it just needs a few more people to go over and visit and add it to their bookmarks!  Emma is really helpful with any lisiting queries so if you want to dip your toe in the online selling or buying water, give her a try.  Her email is on her blog.
I have done a couple of Farmer's Wife blocks.  I tend to do these inbetween other projects as a bit of sewing rest and recuperation.  I am still quite new to traditional blocks so I am interested to see how more experienced sewing hands approach these.  Ayumi told me about Lori's blog- Bee in My Bonnet, what a great place to visit and Lori has some great tutorials for some of the Farmer's wife blocks.
80 Single Wedding Star
54 Kitchen Toolbox
couldn't resist the woodgrain (Joel Dewberry)  fabric here!
sib blog

Monday 29 August 2011

Drunkard on the Sofa

I had forgotten about my love hate relationship with the quilting process.  When I first start the quilting I am convinced it all looks rubbish and I have ruined a quilt top, I pretty much think it is the end and  then as it progresses I relax and can see the bigger picture, its ok, I think it will work, I like it.  Truth be told, I do not like the actual quilting bit and it does not like me.   
 I like simple lines in quilting but my machine is very small and my arms can't take lots of shoving around of fabric layers, so even a small quilt like this is hard going for me- that's why I usually make small things.  I have designed and made hundreds of quilts in my head but in reality, stacks of fabric wait uncut whilst I work out a quilt as you go method that will work with the fabric and the design until my head hurts!  
As there was linen in some of the edges of this quilt I used a 3 step zig zag to catch any fraying fabric before binding and it worked beautifully- I will use that before I bind anything in the future, better than standard zig zag.
The binding is a Joel Dewberry print, Herringbone from the Modern Meadow range.  I have fancied this as a binding ever since I saw Meg use it on a cushion, it blended in to just the right amount.  Perfect for the sofa.  In a small room I have to apply a bit of caution and avoid too may quilted patchwork items for fear of it looking like this...quilted ceiling anyone?- from 'Prize Country Quilts', a rather wonderful old quilting book.

 In a small room I have to apply a bit of caution and avoid too may quilted patchwork items for fear of it looking like this...quilted ceiling anyone?- from 'Prize Country Quilts', a rather wonderful old quilting book.
The mornings are darker and school is starting to beckon... must make the most of the remaining holiday.  Thinking of those in USA affected by Irene, I have seen some frightening pics of the storm, and thinking of a few other people too.
 x to you all 
sib blog

Friday 26 August 2011

Sewing A Drunkard's Path- flippity doodah

I have finished my accuquilt cut Drunkard's path quilt top- it is only a mini- 7 blocks by 3.  I love quilt tops, I feel they lose a little something when they become a quilt, some of the delicacy of the single layer.
The drunkard's path block is not the easiest to sew with convex and concave curves but the accurately cut shapes and the notches help.  I tried sewing these a few ways, pins/no pins, different pieces on top plus following the suggestion from Ebony Love in the newsletter- you can sign up here...22 Free Patterns - Download Now
I started off with Ebony's method and changed the end because I couldn't get it to work consistently.  This method has been the most accurate and needs the least pins and prep!  Like many others, I cannot bear to hear my voice- I talk too fast, sound a bit posh (belies my sometimes sweary self) and mispronounce words with nerves- "steeech" instead of "stitch", but I like to share an effective technique, so here goes!    I am off to test the dies and will do the Go! Baby giveaway next week.  Enjoy, the secret is all in the flip x

If you'd rather stitch by hand, Laura pointed me to this tutorial for a hand sewn method.
sib blog

Thursday 25 August 2011

Break in Bath

We are just back from a mini break in Bath.  It is only an hour and a half on the train so an easy place to visit and oh so pretty.  Our hotel was 5 mins walk from the beautiful Royal Crescent which really is breathtaking to see.
Most of the buildings are apartments now, plus a very plush hotel.  The photo below shows  Damian and Lula walking around the Crescent.
Almost all of Bath is stunningly beautiful, the most mundane of shops are housed in beautiful Bath stone.  By the river is a great place to sit and stare.
The Roman baths were a great visit, it does get busy but there is plenty to see and just the spa water with the steam rising on the surface is enough to fascinate me.
The Roman baths are slap bang next to Bath Abbey.  There is an open square where musicians and street performers play.  I was very lucky, a talented male violinist was playing as we ate our lunch on Tuesday, I was just thinking I wish he would play my favourite Bach piece and my thoughts must have travelled because he did!  I placed a few pounds into his case in gratitude.

The Fashion Museum was another great attraction.  They had a costumes from the movies exhibition and I was most excited by this outfit...
Worn by the delectable Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Lucy Honey Church in A Room with a View, one of my favourite films.  The Fashion museum is well worth a visit and I will be back in the future.  Unusually, you are allowed to take photographs and there are lots of things for children to do- I saw a lot of mothers and daughters and lovely moments of interaction over the exhibits, trying on corsets and crinolines and designing outfits.
We planned most of the acitivites before we arrived in Bath incluing a booking at Demuths vegetarian restaurant.   They have a creative and exciting menu- not easy with vegetarian food, plus great simple options for children, so Damian and I indulged and and Lula was on safer territory.  I did get some strange looks from the table next to me as I took photos but it was such a memorable meal and I don't have that experience often in restaurants.  I didn't photograph my starter but it was amazing- a tomato salad sounds dull but each piece of tomato was a different variety and they were all gently warmed.  Alongside it was a granita of horseradish so each mouthful was warm-cold-sweet-savoury- hot all at the same time!  The long plate below was Damian's main, Miso roast aubergine with sesame rice fritter, tofu, carrot and star anise puree, tamari mushrooms spring onion oil and pickled radish
It was a journey of different flavours.  The stack below was mine...Urid lentil wadis- the little dumplings on top, in a dahl style sauce with veggies and coriander rice.  I didn't want it to end.
We were lucky to be staying near Victoria Park with its 57 acres of parkland including a mega play area with activities for all from tinies to teens.  Great for easy evening time.  Lula is having a private moment in a climbing area with a bar of chocolate.
Rather randomly, there happened to be three hot air balloons taking off on Tuesday evening, such a beautiful thing to watch as they lift off and float away.
Bath is very focused on the lady shopper with lots of independent and boutique style gift shops that I tried not to get sucked into.  I visitied The Makery.  They don't have a huge selection but what they do have is high end- Kokka, Echino etc.  Unfortunately their policy is to sell by the half metre so I only bought the Kei dots and a scrap of the Kokka teapots fabric.  If they had sold by FQ I would have bought a lot more.  The washi tape is from Bloomsbury store, they had great stationery.  And the chicken wire fabric is from a fantastic quilting shop that  I only found 30 mins before catching the train home so I really did not spend sufficient time as there was an amazing selection, the online store is being developed and will be online soon, Country Threads, I will be watching that space very keenly and I may try and get to one of their courses, they look like extraordinarily good value for money.
A great little holiday.  I thoroughly recommend Bath, everything is within walking distance and it is the prettiest urban place in the UK that I have visited.
sib blog

Monday 22 August 2011

Coming Around Again

I have been sorting through my recent vintage fabric bounty.  Many of the fabrics are at least 50 years old and I have been struck by how modern they are and how design ideas are never new, just reinvented.  These  coarse weave feedsack scraps look just like Kei dots
And these lovely bits- this is all I have but aren't they lovely!- remind me strongly of Echino prints both in colour and style.
What goes around comes around with fabric pattern design.
I have two full weeks off work- hurrah!  And we have a week off together so this week is about family time, and besides I burnt my arm on the iron and need to let it heal before I hit the sewing machine again.  So I'll be in and out this week and I'll post the Go! Baby giveaway next week once I've had a chance to test the other dies.  Have a great week, I know I will x
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Sunday 21 August 2011


Grey, or if you prefer gray- so desirable in fabric yet not always so in hair.  Men seem to have an easier ride with this, George Clooney for example.  I was reading Florence's blog this week, Flossie Tea cakes, always a pleasure to visit, and she asked for thoughts on hair dye and grey hairs.  I have long hair and will be 41 next month.   I have no plans for shorter hair, mine will be long forever I think but I wimp out and get a few blonde highlights so my grey does not yet really show.  I was however inspired by the new Autumn Toast catalogue, big hair, big age range of models and beautiful grey hair.
This is a beautiful pose, almost like a painting and I hope my hair is like that in years to come.
I totally relate to this, my hair in style and colour looks like spaniel ears, especially on a damp day and it is a look I like!
And my younger 22 year old self used to rock this look- biker jacket and filmy layered skirt, it is going to cost me a whole lot more now than it did in the grunge days- the jacket alone almost £500, but very beautiful!  I have only ever bought gloves and handwarmers from Toast but I can be inspired for free.
Tales of grey are welcome- do share...
sib blog

Wednesday 17 August 2011

GO Gadget go!

I have been playing with the Accuquilt Baby Go!   for a week now so I thought it was time to share my findings and my makings.  It has been surprising.  This is an expensive piece of kit, especially in the UK- we don't get the offers the USA customers get- so it really needs to justify itself in my eyes.   I have read a zillion blogger reviews so I knew there were several things I wanted to look out for- cutting and grain, wastage, quality of cutting, and the type of fabrics that can be cut.  
The machine itself is nicely dinky and heavy enough to make it reassuringly stable on a flat surface.  It reminded me of a printing press with its rollers and handle.   As others have said, handle turning is fun, I got Damian and Lula to have a turn too.  I used some less precious fabrics to test out my first die, Drunkard's Path just to get a feel for how the Go! and the die worked.  You do really need to push the sandwich of die/fabric/cutting mat quite hard to engage with the rollers but little effort is needed for the handle turning.   I chose Drunkards Path as this was a pattern I could never attempt without the Go!  My hands are just not up to a lot of scissor work, they hurt way too much after lots of scissor use, plus I can never cut  consistently or accurately enough on a shape like this.  If you want to try this for yourself there are free templates here.   I am making a mini sofa throw to cover the seating area of my couch.   However with any project, I start with a fabric pull!    
I am going for a scrappy but co-ordinated mix and an easy way to do this is to use some fabrics from a patterns.  I then look for other prints in my stash in similar colours- a bit of vintage, a bit of modern, it is the colours that count, to create a scrappy more relaxed mix of fabrics.  The colours are for the circles and the neutrals are for the outer shapes.  I also wanted a mix of neutrals, some patterned, some cream, some linen- you get the idea.   I haven't seen many scrappy accuquilt projects so I thought this would be a good test.  With this die, I needed to do some planning.   I couldn't cut the background shapes and the circle shapes at the same time using this mix of colours, so I used a template of each shape, you can see it below in green flowery fabric, but you could also run a piece of paper through to make a template.  I used the templates to roughly cut fabrics for the circles ready to cut.
As long as the fabric covered the die, I got great results even when it was only covering by 1/8 inch.  I lined up the grain of the fabric with the straight edge of the die and my results were perfect.  When you stack a pile of scraps you need to check they fully cover the die and by gently  pressing the fabric I found you could feel the ridges of the edges of the die- you need a few layers of fabric for this and I must stress to press gently as the dies are super sharp!  I did 6 layers of quilting cotton weight with no problems.  When I used a linen mix I reduced that to 5 layers.
So with a little prep and rough cutting I got 10-12 inner circle pieces at a time with tiny amounts of wastage, less than if I had cut with scissors.  The accuracy is what really impressed me and the notches- I could never have cut those and they are incredibly helpful when joining the pieces!
For the L shapes I found I either had to rough cut scraps into L shapes- using the green templates again- and cut 6 shapes at a time...
Or I doubled up and cut rough cut a T shape.  A 10" layer cake square was good for this- I got 2 folded T pieces and 2 L pieces from one 10" square.   This is a pile of 6 layers of Kona cotton waiting to be cut,
and this is 100% lightweight linen stacked up to be rollered through.  This fabric is a nightmare to cut with scissors or a rotary cutter.  It slips and slides under grippy rulers and is generally badly behaved so has been neglected for the last year.  I really was amazed to see how the Go!  cut this...
these shapes remind me of knickers- rather plain, spartan linen pants!
They are so accurate! I also found with cotton or linen fabrics that I only ever had 1 in 6 of the cuts with a little uncut thread of the fabric to snip.  I was so happy to finally use this linen and to see it cut so neatly.
In an ideal world all my projects would be planned neatly and arranged like this! 
The plan is to make a quilt 3 blocks by 7- each block is 7 inches finished. Twenty one blocks in all and I am just over half way.  It will be a quilt runner for my sofa to lie over the seating bit for cats, dog and 3 people to sit on and be easily slung in the wash.
My adventures will continue as I work my way through the dies- I have the strip cutter and the value die so there is a lot to play with.  I'll report back as I go along.  I am doing a lot of house sewing at the moment, pillows/cushions, throws, curtains etc so I'll see what projects I come up with.  It is a costly item but it does yield amazing results and it really saves on the arm strain.  It would be a great buy for a group of sewers to share- I know guilds are not so prevalent in the UK but sewing groups and  meetings are growing at the moment and with a few people chipping in you could then get a great variety of dies too.   In the meantime, 22 patterns are completely free and can easily be adapted to other cutting methods.  I had a good look through and found a lot of block ideas in there as well as quilt projects. Click here or on the pic below to sign up for free pattern downloads.
22 Free Patterns - Download Now
One lucky person will get to win a Baby GO! soon plus 3 dies- I will post more but you know a Go!  giveaway is a-coming...
sib blog

Monday 15 August 2011

Paying it Forward with Pinnies

With a little help from my Aurifil threads I completed three pincushions- paying it forward for Rachel, Leila and Suzanne.  They each gave me an idea of what they wanted so hopefully these are just right.  I like them all, and they make a nice little grouping.
This is Rachel's.   The block is Mother's Dream, I do like traditional x and + blocks.  The fabrics are all vintage from my new pile except the Kei Kerchief girl in the middle- oh for more of this fabric!
Leila liked blue and these are all vintage fabrics, aprons etc

Both of these have a wool fabric back and a little hand stamped tag.
Suzanne wanted something like the clutch I made for Kaelin.  This is double sided with a sewing theme on the front...
and a house theme for the back.  Aurifil threads again for the hand stitch details- wool 12 weight and cotton 12 weight.  They are lovely threads for hand stitching and a sashiko needle makes for quicker sewing.  Suzanne just won a pack of thread in my giveaway!  She does a lot of hand stitch detail so I know they are going to a good home.
Aurifil threads again for the hand stitch details- wool 12 weight and cotton 12 weight.  They are lovely threads for hand stitching.  These little cushions are en route to their new owners.
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